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On a roll and coming home

Whistler Sliding Centre brings back canadian bobsleigh, skeleton athletes for World Cup weekend

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For the second year, the Whistler Sliding Centre will host an FIBT Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup event, with three days of racing on the schedule from Feb. 2 to 4.

The Whistler event is the seventh on the circuit, and will be followed by the eighth event in Calgary the next weekend. After that the season wraps up with the world championships at Lake Placid on Feb.26.

Having the world championships in North America this year ensures that all the top bobsleigh teams and skeleton athletes will be here, while last year some teams opted to skip the season opener in Whistler and race a European Cup event instead.

Thursday's events are the women's skeleton and women's bobsleigh, with the skeleton athletes kicking things off at 3 p.m. and the bobsleigh races at 6:30 p.m.

The men's skeleton is at 3 p.m. on Friday, followed by the men's two-man bobsleigh at 6:30 p.m. The four-man bobsleigh races are at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Tickets are available at www.whistler.com/olympics/sliding_centre for $10, or free for kids six and under. You can also get tickets at the Whistler Activity Centre and some tickets will be available on race day at the base of the Excalibur Gondola.

Here's what you need to know:

How are the Canadians doing?

The skeleton team is missing Olympic champion Jon Montgomery, who took the season off competition to prepare for the 2014 Games. Melissa Hollingsworth is having a great season on the women's side and at press time was ranked fifth in the world. She's been on the podium three times this season, including one win and two bronze medals. Before last weekend she was in first by a few points, but a 16th place finish at St. Moritz bumped her back.

Amy Gough is one spot back of Hollingsworth in sixth place and has one gold medal to her credit. Sarah Reid is 12th and has posted a few personal bests this year — including a career-best fifth place result.

In the men's skeleton Michael Douglas has been holding down the fort and is ranked 11th, with teammate John Fairbairn in 13th and Eric Neilson in 14th.

In bobsleigh, Canada's season took a wrong turn at Altenberg, Germany with the Canada 2 four-man bobsleigh piloted by World Cup rookie Chris Spring crashing in training, resulting in serious injuries to three athletes. The Canada 1 sled was pulled from the competition the next day over safety concerns.

The women's bobsleigh team has been the highlight this season with Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries finding her groove with new partner Emily Baadsvik and coming on strong. The team has now been on the podium three times this season, including a gold, silver and bronze.

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